This time on the Anduwin Chronicles….
Granuaile and the party arrive at to the Pendulum. It’s a huge open temple structure. The building itself stretching far off into the clouds above. A wide base, and a tall shaft allowing the internal structure to do whatever it is that is needed. As the party move inside, its clear that this is a place of worship as much as a tourist destination. People are freely walking upwards, following walkways to higher levels of the structure, to see the Pendulum from all angles. Some visitors are more reverent and are paying respects to Paz, whilst other appear dressed for a day out. There is a chattering excitement just outside the doors, but all people become silent on entering the building proper, as though some magikal effect forces itself over all who enter. The party two enter the building, and notice Anduwomantic wave of energy forcing them quiet, and leaving them unable to speak.
The wide base, inside has made space for a long hall way, gradually rising upwards towards the centre. The main chamber is a massive circular area. In its centre is a grand pool of purest water, and around this several smaller pools, connected by a system of naves. Directly above the exact centre of the structure hangs the Pendulum itself. Never stationary. The swinging golden metal piece of craftsmanship draws focus immediately. It swings, making a noise as it does, its razor sharp edge humming through the air. The only sound to be heard within the structure. Each swing is powerful, as the tip of Pendulum almost touches the window on one side, before it swings back and repeats the extreme of its movement. The building that houses this device is massive, but built perfectly to just contain the swing, to be within inches on either side. At its lowest point, the Pendulum skims the water of the central pool, causing a very faint ripple.
Some people are dressed in full white robes with a simple rope belt. One man in white stands near the central pool. Before him is a queue of patrons. To each he hands a simple cup of water. They use the water, and return the cup to him. Some sip, other dab the moisture onto their bodies, taking to absorb the regal divinity of the water. But this ritual always ends the same way. A silent gesture of thanks.
Granuaile approaches the Pendulum, and prepares to conjure her jackal. The animal that symbolises Paz. As she nears, the chalice in her bag, starts to feel very heavy. Taking it from her pack, she approaches the water, skipping the queue, and scoops water into the goblet, drinking it as a single sip. All of a sudden, she is compelled to hold the cup high. As he arm extends a lightning bolt crashes thunderously into the chalice. The holy men distributing water look to her in start surprise, as the lightning not only flashes, but crashes sound into the hallowed quiet halls. The quiet appears to have been suspended as murmurs and whispers amongst the cleric betray that no one is sure what this means. Still holding it aloft, the Chalice of Eternity begins to glow, appearing to become more powerful, and taking on its Awakened form.
It is Awakened form, the power of the Chalice spills out, and as Granuaile offers a drink from the cup to her own Jackal, the beast speaks to her. She asks if it could always speak, and he replied he could, but only now, she can hear him. Learning this, Granuaile asks a single question. “Are you my dad?”
He nods silently, as the half-orc rushes into an embrace with the conjured creature. She tells that she suspected it, but to hear it for herself it another thing entirely. Overwhelmed by emotions, Granuaile makes a significant donation to the Pendulum and to Paz’s faith. She parts company with 1300 electrum pieces, and her father, with him promising the pair would have more time to properly talk and catch up in the near future, with fewer wide eyed and starring religious types, who remain aghast at the events that transpired.
Meanwhile, Orryon pays quiet respect to the fallen, including his own short devotion to the Jackal Anduwin. He makes a purchase of a very costly holy symbol. An intricate carving of silver and gold, showing a 3D form of the Jackal, leaping from the circular symbol. Cato takes some time to approach one of the holy men in white robes, and displays the once beautiful ancient feathers to him. The holy man anoints the feather with a sprinkling of water from the Pendulum Well, and the mage waits, though nothing appears to happen.
Not feeling particularly religious, Brant asks to borrow Granuaile’s mirror, and speaks with Lady Amelie. He warns her of Lexler and the influence of Nezhar, as well as tries to understand who in the former Protectorate may have influence Lexler’s placement in the Vale, and his access to funds and research. Amelie is unsure of many things, but does tell the bard she will keep an ear to the ground for whispers and rumours about the professor and his various doings. Brant and Amelie confirm that until they know more, this information should remain between those who were at Lexler’s gate, and Amelie.
Tired from their busy morning, but refreshed by the sight of Granuaile’s Jackal, and the message it gave her; the party leave the Pendulum, and make their way towards the Waygate. On route, the reunite with Mr Graves, who is under the impression the Brant agreed to be his guide and escort across the world. However, worried about Mr Grave’s unique naivety, he suggests to Graves that as the party are traveling to Abraxos’ country, he would serve as a better guide. Mr Graves accepts this offer and follow quietly as the group travel the ancient road south of the Vale, towards the Waygate.
Brant and Granuaile recognise the Waygate in the distance from the one they had used beneath Bukka all those years ago. They see an active excavation and construction process. A massive machine built of huge circular discs around an altar or similar at its heart. The raised central platform facing towards the party as they approach and introduce themselves. The nearer they get, the more it is noticeable that the work is very much still on going to salvage this ancient machine. A ditch, at least ten feet deep runs the entire perimeter. Where the wind blows the dirty, another metallic ring can be seen at the base of this trench, with people still actively digging and pulling out pieces of metal. Some rusted and bent others apparently pristine despite centuries beneath the ground. The parts of the machine that look functional or finished enough to work have been adorned with drapery displaying the various provincial flags of the region, perhaps as a welcome to those who will arrive, or as a claim of ownership over this gate.
The staff at the gate are mainly working on rebuilding it, or working as security. They tell the party that Pliskin has arranged for them to teleport to the Yeilderon region of Máurdórne. Abraxos shares his own knowledge of this region. Its mainly inhabited by Clan Dracka. A once trible and shamanistic people who worshipped the Monolith, now they have become the most adept at hunting and killing the Shades and Nightmares that still creep out of the Monolith’s open doors.
The party is told that the gate’s usual operator is off sick today, at very short notice. However, a replacement from Frostheim has been found, and this young man will be providing the runic keys to activate the machine. Harrison Stonebreaker is a weed of a boy. Lanky, and spectacled. He tells that he studied Andoth runes under Professor Brian Lexman and when asked which runes he would be using to teleport the group, he points out a few, which he says mean Snow, Storm, Island, which suggests Máurdórne. Brant quickly and magikally translates these to mean Vast Open Nothing. Harrison says excitedly that this would be his first time teleporting someone. He is confident in his knowledge of the runes, but from Brant’s own magik, it appears whoever taught him as given him the wrong translations for each and every sygil. Brant urges caution and tells Harrison that his services will not be needed today. The boy becomes upset at losing this opportunity, and so Orryon sends out a psychic wave of energy which calms the boy, and stops him from running off in tears. Brant then explains the mistranslation and his own worries that this “professor Lexman” is very likely to be a crude disguise of Lexler, thinking back to the thinly veiled threat of things going wrong when using the Waygates. Brant is worried also that if Harrison isn’t taught correctly, he may accidently kill someone through using the wrong runes. After a lengthly discussion, Orryon writes a letter of recommendation for Harrions, suggesting that he travel to Naramia and train. His letter give his name, and calls in a favour to Naramia’s prime minister. With the immediate issue settled, the group gather on the central stand, and Cato conjure his invisible manservant 189, telling it which runes to activate, under instruction from Brant. After close to two hours of sorting out the Waygate operators, and learning which runes were which, the final button is pressed and the rings begin to whirl into life. Faster and faster, until they become a silvery rust blur around the group; so fast that they would appear almost clear and not present if it weren’t for the magik and technology breaking the sights. Instantly all sight goes black.
Stars dot each person’s vision then blink out as blackness takes over once more. Gradually the whirling mechanical thrum slows and the rings too seem to run out of energy. The discs come to a stop revealing that the group now stands on a platform of another machine. Gone are the provincial flags, replaced by a solitary flag of the Grey Empire, as the group look out over bare grey rock. They have indeed arrived in Máurdórne.
A number of Greyborn are present, having been told to expect Ambassador Abraxos home. A tall man, who Abraxos introduces as The Cleric welcomes the ambassador and his allies, and direct him and the others away from the platform towards the Queens Guard, who then escort the six adventurers, Mr Graves and Gundram Blake, joined by Abraxos’ greyborn security, towards a carriage a twenty minute walk from this Greyborn Waygate. The carriage is rivotted with metal bolts and pins, and has a large contraption on the back. Its wheels are held in place by a track, and there are no horses or mounts to be seen to pull this wagon. However, Abraxos doesn’t seem worried and climbs inside to take a seat, and so the rest of the group follow suit. And before too long, the mechanical contraption spurts to life, as the whole wagon starts to roll. Slowly at first, before it reaches a rapid pace.
The train crosses the desolate landscape like a whispering rocket. Inside has been provided as many luxuries as Greyborn would, whilst the world outside the carriage walls is devoid of trees or grasses. There as stones and dirty, and in some places there are even pools of bubbling and boiling larva, being refilled by the volcano to the country’s north.
Impressed by the machine, Mr Graves lifts his tunic, revealing a small spinning orange rock fitted to the centre of his metal chest. He tries to introduce a sense of glee into his voice, and explains that the train works like he does; powered by this orange crystal. He explains he is what is known as a Construct. He tells how he had to fight his own people to win the right to be sent to Menosophia. He won, and was chosen to be the most culturally appropriate for this mission. He explains that he is here to learn what he and his people were built for. What is their purpose. They have been used and abused by several races in uncounted wars, and there are so few left now. They hope to learn answers and gain purpose. Mr Graves explains that when Mensophia re-joined the universe, his people believed that his is a place where ansewers can be found about why they were made. He is told that he would likely find information in Naramia. Siala asks Mr Graves how he came to win the combat, as he does not appear to carry weapons. Graves states that all of his people have a unique ability. He is able to “immobilise” threats for a distance. He then becomes keen to demonstrate this ability, and watches for an opportunity. He spies a stag on the horizon, and points his finger at it, before screaming “Immobilise” and firing an unstable red beam at the unsuspecting creature. The beam connects and eviscerate the beast, sending parts of it skyward, and splattering around. Siala is shocked and now convinced that the type of immobilisation Graves meant was death. She and Brant warn Graves against using this ability whilst on Menosophia due to the dangers. Brant is especially worried about someone, such as Gundram Blake, exploiting this man, who is a living death canon. It is agreed that for the time being at least Mr Graves will stay with the party, partially to help him learn of the world’s people, but also to protect; him from exploitation, and the world from his weapon.
After the death of the dear, the carriage is quiet for a time, until it pulls into a low sitting station. The destination reached; Yeilderon. The capital city of the Grey Empire. High walls surround the city, with huge mounted rail guns at regular interval along the walls. Looking up further than the walls are tall buildings. Metal structures that rise like dragon’s talon high into the scrap, scraping and clawing to be the tallest. The tallest in the city has a large fin along one side of the building that stretches for an age, reaching like a wiry growth towards the volcano. This is the Dragon’s Perch, where the Emperors of old, and the current Empress keep the seat of their power. The main citadel of Yeilderon, and a place where they can sit outside in their draconic form, or transform to enter the buildings in a more humanoid visage. Abraxos then tells the others that Yeilderon has a heavy class system, with workers living lower, and in poorer quality air. He pulls his familiar bandana from his neck, to cover nose and mouth and steps out of the carriage. The others follow his lead, and step out, breathing through sleeves, or cloth.
The sky appears dark at first. Though it is unclear why this may be. The air is thick with pollution, but there are also swarms of dreadbats filling the sky. All above is either smoke, soot, or bat, with little room left for the light to reach this deep into the city. Taking in the sights of the high buildings, and the Dragon’s Perch, this is a city build for those who can fly. And if they cannot fly, then they learn to ride a bat. The ambassador’s guards, Krint and Stoven call dreadbat to themselves. And the large mammals soon arrive, seemingly having bonded with these particular riders. The duo then waits for Abraxos to call his own mount to him. He does so, and the beast gracefully glide into view. A large creature with royal colouration in its fur. He too mounts up. Seeing this, Granuaile tries to call for a bat by whistling, but fails in this endeavour. Brant also calls out, and surprisingly a smaller runtish bat does land next to him. The Halfling mounts and the bat immediately takes flight, moving rapidly, trying to shake off his rider. Brant loses his grip, but the runt then dives and catches him, happily having bonded to Brant Goldust. Seeing his success, Siala also tries to call a bat, but fails. She therefore holds a hand over her own voice box, as a white green energy flashes. She then calls up to a group of dreadbats, and asks them for a lift. She learns that they are part of a bat resistance who are against being ridden, but when one spots the royal bat of Abraxos, he decides to join with Siala as a means to take down the regime of bat riding from within the palace walls. Mr Graves, Cato, Granuaile, Gundram and Orryon don’t haven bats, and so Abraxos arranges a larger slower bat. A mutant in the flock, who can carry multiple riders; a sort of sky bus. When the bats are settled, each of the beasts takes to the sky, and rises above the level of the soot and pollution into the early evening sky of Yeilderon, steering towards a geometric obsidian tower. The official residence of ambassador Abraxos.
The residence is barely lived in with the sparcest home comforts. Along cold stone corridors with guest suits peeling off the side, and a kitchen further down the aisle. Around one corner, the corridor turns and leads into an open library or archive. Walls filled with tomes and scrolls, on two sides. The third by the entrance from the corridor, and the forth, overlooking a 30 foot long balcony with large tinted glass windows. Abraxos shows his guest around and dismisses his staff for some leave, now that they are home from his travels. He lets people get settled before approaching Cato in the library, asking for a quick word.
Granuaile calls dibs on one room, and Brant offers Mr Graves a word of warning against being lead a stray by unscrupulous people. Brant is keen that Mr Graves is more cautious in who he feels able to trust. He urges Mr Graves to run things past Brant, Granuaile, Abraxos and Orryon as known trustworthy people. Brant then promises he will do what he can to help Graves find the answers he needs. Graves thanks Brant for the warning, before looking at the Halfling, and powering down, doing semi-limp, and half blocking the door out of Brant’s room for the night.
Cato asks Abraxos if the ambassadorial line or work pays well, as the samurai leads the mage towards the study. The samurai had hoped to close the two within the study, but as there is no door, it is not possible. Abraxos is unsure if Cato truly works for the Ministerium. He tells the mages that if he has to have someone at his back, he would rather know about them, and feel he could trust them. Cato tells Abraxos that he was send by the late Elroy the Supreme. This former master magister wished for Cato to go to the Monolith and investigate what was within it. The old mage used to work for the Ministerium, and Cato used to be affiliated with them, but is perhaps not as aligned with them as he says he is. Cato provides a sygil of the Ministerium, and Abraxos acknowledges that Cato is at least telling most of the truth. Elroy’s dying words were for Cato to make contact with whatever dwells within the Monolith. Abraxos warns against this course of action, due to the nature of who used to live inside. And uneasy acceptance hold the pair, as Abraxos turns to leave, walking down the corridor towards his own suite, leaving the mage within the library alone.
From within the room he was due to rest in, the healer is sorting through his supplies, and beginning his routine unwrapping and wrapping of unused bandages. However, he hears something outside. Spikes or similar thrust into the obsidian wall. In a city where everyone flies, and threats can be easily downed, someone or something has chosen to start climbing up. Claw and nail working as crampons to aid the ascent. Orryon barely has time to react before the climbing sounds stop. A shadow flickers past his vision, along the corridor, and the battle begins.
With the threat having been spotted by the healer and the archer, there isn’t time to take any preventative action before the first strike. The intruders move in the shadows, hidden and unheard.
The enemy fires two shots. One glances of the samurai’s armour, but the mage is in robes rather than any armour. The impact on Abraxos dents his armour and pushes him to the floor, while the second shot punctures Cato’s side. The impact felling him instantly. Abraxos looks up from his winded state and sees the intruders closing the distance, with a black hand smeared across their faces; The Clan of the Iron Fist. Cato’s unconscious wounded breath beginning to falter form the strength of the shot. Hearing the two quick shots, the rest of the party have their attention turned to the study and balcony area. In the staff kitchen, Gundram Blake is the first to react. His mercenary instincts kicking in, as he takes out a weapon, and begins to rush towards the noises. Abraxos grabs Cato’s collar and drags him into a corner. As he drags, his celestial heritage begins to radiant a slight glow from his hands, and heals Cato enough to wake him, and keep him from death. The samurai then drops his shield over the mage as an additional level of protection. Siala leaves her room, and spots a large figure looking away from her. She levels her bow and fires in quick succession. The arrows strike into the intruder’s back one right after the other. Blood pouring form the holes cut by the shafts, leaving just the fletching sticking out of her foe. She then steps behind the corner, and catches Gundram’s eyes. She then signals with hand gestures that the foe is just beyond the corner. At this time, Mr Graves awakes from his powered down mode, and turns around, walking straight through the wall towards the threats. In the previous fight he mearly watched, but this time, who knows Grave’s intentions. Brant mutters a short spell over himself, and turns invisible, before he tumbles out of his room, towards where the allies are gathered on the corner of the corridor. Orryon then gets to action, and leaves his own room, also joining the allies at the corridor junction. His arcane armour is conjured and appears as transparent armour over the healer before vanishing from sight, but the protection remaining visible. Granauile leaves her room, joining the others, and leans around the corner, launching a firebolt into the beast Siala had shot. The magik strikes and ignites the wooden arrows. The large foe Siala had struck throws a small token at Mr Graves. The token attaches itself to Graves and explode. The attack bursting in a large sphere of lightning, which arcs between the party.
Back in the library, two greyborn intruders put away their firearms, and draw out scimitars. Each flicks their wrists and the blades crackle up in electrical energy. The enemies strike into Abraxos. Moving in a lethal synchronised dance. When one moves left, the other strikes in the gap, and so forth. The third greyborn intruder aims his firearm at Abraxos, but the weapon misfires, erupting into its wielder’s face. Cato flashes awake in a start, his face rapidly bruising and blood pouring from his side. He half stands, learning on a wall, and supporting himself on Abraxos. The mage then gestures his fingers and opens a teleportation door. He and Abraxos vanish from the study and reappear in Abraxos private suite. The penthouse away from the attackers. On his arrival, he shambles towards the breakfast table, before tipping it, and hiding behind. The samurai used to magikal travel and battle, quickly takes stock of his surroundings. He spots that the balcony up here is accessible, and that more intruders may be on their way. Taking his eyes off the window, the samurai hastily applies a healers kit to Cato, stemming the bleeding from the wound to his side. The mage stabilised, Abraxos gets closed to the balcony and hears scrabbling climbing up the building’s side. Seeing the two greyborn climbing, he whistles for his royal bat, Arlo. The mount comes to its master’s aid, and dives into both of the greyborn trying to climb. It mauls one, and manages to knock the two off the building. One falls to his death, but the other is caught by an enemy dreadbat. The samurai commands Arlo to go get help.
In the corridor, Gundram takes aim, and tries to flick a poison dagger, but the blade cannot penetrate the large foe’s armour. Siala, seeing the dagger clatter against the armour, draws the bow string back and fires again at the largest target. The arrow sinks above the armour and into the enemy’s neck, cutting scale and skin. Her second shot clips in to a similar place. Siala draws on her fighting power and fires a third shot that cuts the same point on his neck. The arrow knocking the two previous arrows free. This arrow flashes with a green blast of energy, ripping naturalistic magik into his neck. She fires a final shot, cleaving a hole into the back of his head. The large foe steps and falls. Bleeding from his back, neck and head. Destroyed by the elven archer. Mr Graves moves forward and takes a deep breath in, before blowing out a cone of flame, singing the decor and creating an area of flame in front of him. Seeing how effective his allies are in dealing damage to the intruders, Brant begins to cast a message to Venracka. “I’m with Abraxos, we are being attacked, in his penthouse, send help”. As the spell is cast, Brant’s invisibility ends.
The moment the message is sent, he hears a mental reply from the Empress, “Ok, we are on our way. Keep them busy”. The city then rolls to life. Sirens and search lights turned on, and raising the battle alarms. Looking out the windows, the huge rail guns are being turned towards the estate. Seeing this, Granuaile pushes past the large foe, and dashes towards her quarry. She beats her half-orc fist against her shield and sends out a wave of thunderous energy to repel the Greyborn assailants. The intruders stir themselves after the barrage of attacks they have suffered. One takes out his gun, whilst the other two hold their lightning blades and enter into melee with Granuaile. The electrical swords cannot seem to harm the half-orc through her armour. The fallen foe begins to rise, with the arrow still sticking from his head. Risen and haunted beyond death. Gundram rounds the corner. He draws two short swords and manages to swipe the first one, missing with his off hand, but striking for a small amount of damage against the foes Granuaile is holding back. Siala comes back out and is surprised to see her once fallen foe risen. She fires but misses her first hit out of sheer surprise. However, the moment of distraction passes and she is able to strike true. Mr Graves then leaves the corridor and stands on the balcony and attempts to punch through the wall to grab the Greyborn from the other side, as a means to restrain them. However, he was not anticipating the strength of the obsidian. Orryon then steps around the corner and finally takes in the scene of combat. He instinctively reaches out and a mental hold crushes around the Greyborn harassing Gundram. The foe is lifted into the air and then bashed from side to side, striking the walls repeatedly, its legs dangling over his comrade’s eyes. Having one of her foes taken out of the fight, Granuaile ignites her warhammer in green arcane energy but cannot seem to injure the foe. The floating foe Orryon holds up with his mind and the man tries to shoot. The missle cuts into the healer, but isn’t enough to stop the spell holding him aloft.
In the penthouse Cato claps his hands and when he pulls them apart there are three illusionary copies of him. The four versions of Cato head to the stairway from suite down into the main home, to see where the threats are. Abraxos then moves further into his own sweet, thinking the bat would struggle to get into the room. He hides, and prepares to strike as soon as the bat or the Iron Fist member is within striking ranges. The bat crashes through the windows, and as it does, Abraxos brings Snowhearth down with speed, cleaving through the bat’s neck, and taking it out of the fight in a single blow. As he brings his blade upwards from the strike, he turns his attention to the rider, cutting into his forearm. The intruder falls from his mount. He stands bleeding as Abraxos catches his breath. The Greyborn is not interested in the samurai, but spots the four versions of Cato. He lashes out with his blade but cannot tell which form is the real Cato. The sword puncturing the illusion and ending it. The foe strikes again, and misses the true Cato again. Realising the spell in effect the enemy cautiously punches at Cato hoping to break the final illusion. Having had all of his illusions destroyed, Cato looks into the mind of his attacker and casts a suggestive spell. “Look at the mess you’ve just made! Clean it up!”
The intruder starts to move towards the mess, but then realises that he doesn’t need or want to tidy up. Cato mutters a quiet “shit” and then turns himself into vapour, teleporting with a vapour trail from where he is, to hiding behind the upturned table again. Both Abraxos and the intruder can see the vapour trail, as a shady plume betraying Cato’s location. The samurai takes up a noble stance and prepares to strike his quarry. The first cuts the wrist, the second a thigh. Trying to immobilise the foe. He swings again and again, cutting the other thigh, dropping the Greyborn to the floor, and as he strikes the final time, aiming for his arm, Abraxos blade cuts the Greyborn’s chest due to the fall. The movement of the Greyborn off-setting the samurai’s strike, and so the foe is killed.
Gundram and Granuaile continue to parry attacks on the front line as the intruders and the undead intruder start to try to cut or shoot. Siala aims at the floating foe. The arrow flies across the corridor into the floating foe. The arrow flashes into green light and then explores into a shower of leaves, killing him. She then takes aim at her first foe. The reanimated Greyborn, striking, but not as crucially. Mr Graves bursts through the wall, and crushes his arms around a Greyborn, pinning it to the wall, against the wall and his body. Brant then strums a loud chord on his lute. The vibrations beginning to turn into arcane might. The bolt shakes the air as sound moves, and strikes into its target. The air shaking around the villain continues to musically pull future strikes into more crucial points. The floating foe is dropped by Orryon, as he tries to lift another to the air and repeat his usefulness, but this foe is able to resist the magikal effect. He runs out the balcony and out of sight of the enemies, knowing he is not good at combat. As he moves out onto the balcony, Orryon vanishes in a swirl of feathers, teleporting further into safety. Granuaile then swings her Warhammer imbued with green fire. She strikes true and crunches the chest of one, and the fire begins to burn her for, and then leap to another foe near her. Seeing the effect of his strum, Brant calls up another chord and allows his vibrations to merge with the resonance of his previous strike, which causes the Greyborn’s head to begin to cave in on itself under the pressure of all the sound. The remaining Greyborn strike fruitlessly at Granuaile and Gundram, and in their falling numbers are easily dispatched with little effort.
In the aftermath of the fight, the sirens continue to howl throughout the city, as the search lights sweep the building and the intruders in the building have all been killed.
And that’s where we left off…